The two fashion stylists and their global team of 15 members were able to tackle the feat with relative ease, styling the likes of double winner Ariana DeBose, Critics’ Choice host Taye Diggs, and newcomers Kaci Walfall and Coral Peña, among others, in an array of standout looks.
“It’s logistics because, obviously, when you have this many clients, you have to make sure there are no conflicts of designers and you’re not overlapping,” Smith explained over the phone. “First and foremost, it’s about listening to the clients. These are very big moments for our clients and we thought about what designers have supported us and have been doing the work, which designers have been promoting diversity and inclusivity in an organic and natural way. Those are always going to be our first calls.”
For Sunday night, Smith was stationed in Los Angeles to work with the clients attending the Critics’ Choice Awards, while Edmiston was in London for the BAFTAs. He explained that each client had a dedicated member from their team with them while they got ready, while he and Edmiston also checked in on the clients.
The fashion stylists continued their styling ethos of staying true to who each client is for their styling. For DeBose, who has won virtually every award she’s been nominated for so far this awards season for her breakout role as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” the stylists wanted to pay homage to her character and to the actress’ Latin roots through two yellow gowns by Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera.
“The scene that I remember in the movie theater that people were screaming and applauding is the ‘America’ song, that’s when [DeBose] has on the yellow and red dress,” Smith said. “The dress just says so much about wanting to come to America and leaving your home for a better life and having all of these ideas of what you think America was going to be, but is it really that? It’s so nuanced and multifaceted and I think fashion can very powerfully tell a story. The yellow of the costume is hope and optimism, striving for something better and it’s joy, but then you see the red and, for me, that’s representative of the hardship, the grit you have to do to get to that joy and optimism.”
DeBose attended the 2022 BAFTAs in person wearing a custom yellow chiffon Oscar de la Renta gown that featured a large red flower at the hip. She then changed into a Carolina Herrera yellow taffeta column gown from the designer label’s fall 2022 ready-to-wear collection for the 2022 Critics’ Choice Awards, which she attended at the London satellite.
“The Oscar de la Renta dress with the red floral motif and yellow chiffon,” Smith continued, “the softness and how airy it was and then you go into the Carolina Herrera dress, which was a stiffer taffeta fabric and was more statuesque. I thought it was a beautiful juxtaposition of two gowns and represented two versions of Ariana paying homage to Anita.”
Smith and Edmiston were also responsible for the red carpet debuts of Walfall, who plays the titular character in Ava DuVernay’s new series, “Naomi,” and Peña, who stars in Apple TV+’s “For All Mankind,” at the Critics’ Choice Awards. Walfall stunned in a playful Chanel tweed fringe couture dress, while Peña wore a black Solace London dress with puff sleeves.
On Walfall’s look, Smith said: “Sometimes you see these younger stars and the dress is wearing them or it’s too mature. I don’t want to sound too pompous, but I do think that looking back at the pictures of Kaci, she feels organically and authentically a 17-year-old teenager that’s on the cusp of a great career.”
Additionally for the BAFTAs, Smith and Edmiston styled 2021 BAFTA EE Rising Star Award recipient Bukky Bakray in custom Versace and “Dune” actress Sharon Duncan-Brewster in a printed look by Ozwald Boateng.
When it came to their male clients, Smith and Edmiston continued last year’s red carpet trend of men’s high-fashion dressing with their client Max Harwood, who attended the BAFTAs as a presenter and to represent his film, “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.” The stylists looked to Moschino for the actor, dressing him in a soft metallic green suit accented with a silver peacock brooch.
“For me, it was the peacock brooch because anyone that knows about menswear knows there’s a whole study on the male peacock,” Smith explained. “The male peacock wants to show off or there’s the dandy, so this for me matches our peacock. I thought the brooch just brought it all together in this wonderful way.”
For Diggs’ hosting duties, the stylists went with two looks, a deep purple, velvet Giorgio Armani tuxedo for the red carpet, and then a black wool tuxedo from Berluti for the show.
“Taye is very old school 1940s and 1950s Hollywood leading man vibes,” Smith said. “We always just find a way to do that so it’s fabrication and the silk lapel. We always think of those things when we’re working with Taye.”
While the stylists had a large undertaking for Sunday’s awards shows, it was important for them and their team to make the most of these moments and help their clients achieve the looks and messages they were striving for.
“We really are shifting the narrative for these people,” Smith concluded. “For me, it’s not about getting on the best dressed list — it’s nice, but it’s about those human moments where you can see you surpassed the garment and you touched the souls and the heart of someone.”
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